Robson Green is on a mission to get one of the highest accolades in angling: a grand slam.
In his new fishing show, he attempts not one, not two, but 10 grand slams in 10 different countries.
We asked him what exactly a grand slam is, and which country are the most obsessive fishers. But first, our writer had a confession to make…
Hi Robson. I’m afraid know nothing about fishing.
Same here. I just got the gig out of sheer luck. I’ve been winging it for years.
What is a grand slam?
If you achieve a grand slam, you get into the world record books of the IGFA, the International Game Fish Association. It might not sound like much to you, but it is like getting a gold medal at the Olympics in the world of fishing. You have to catch three species of fish from a set list within a 24-hour window. But the list they give you is known to most anglers as the impossible pursuit. Very few anglers have achieved grand slams.
Robson catches a blackfin tuna in Miami
So what the Travel Channel very kindly do is send me to 10 of the best fishing destinations on the planet to try and get the grand slam of each particular country. So on Monday night, you will see me in Miami going for the Offshore Grand Slam. To catch one of the four species on the list in a lifetime is in an achievement in itself. To catch three out of four within 24 hours is virtually impossible. Since the IGFA’s records began, there’s never been an actor in those books.
So did you achieve the virtually impossible?
Let’s just say I achieve something that only one other angler in the world has ever done. And in another episode I achieve something that only three other anglers have achieved. That is something I’m incredibly proud of.
Which catch got your heart racing the most?
In Cuba, there’s a fish called a tarpon, which is basically a silver bar of solid muscle. It’s one of the greatest fighting fish around. To catch one you have to to have patience, stealth and present the fly at the right moment. I caught one just as the sun was setting and it was the most wondrous experience.
Do you end up in the water at any point?
Yes, but it’s deliberate. I have ended up in the water quite a few times by accident, as have some of the film crew. When I filmed in the Amazon, the soundman fell into piranha-infested waters. He came out that river like a motorboat! He was like a marine gazelle.
Which country are the most obsessive fishers?
I think the British are the most obsessive. They’re really chippy about me though – really bitter that an actor got the gig and they didn’t. I tell them to look in the mirror!
How do you know they’re jealous?
Because they come up to me and tell me! Recently I was fishing in Northumberland and a guy went: “You’re that Robson Green off the television. I watch your programmes with interest. You’re an irritating bugger.” And I was walking down Northumberland Street in Newcastle and a guy went, at the top of his voice: “Robson, your fishing shows… you’re a w**ker!” I think it was my agent.
Where’s your favourite place in the world to fish?
Cuba. It’s got some of the most elusive, best fighting fish in the world and it’s an idyllic place to be with a real sense of self and identity. Havana is crumbling but it’s going to get investment. I’d go there tomorrow if I could.
Which would you recommend for thrill-seeking anglers?
All of them. They’re all on the top 10 list of any angler. In terms of marine life and jaw-dropping landscape, it has to be Homer in Alaska. That’s pretty extraordinary.
Do you have any fishing dreams you haven’t fulfilled yet?
Listening to this call are the people who pay me to fish so… I would love to go to the Galapagos Islands, the Seychelles, the Andamans, Easter Island. The Galapagos are difficult to get to but any place worth going isn’t easy to get to.
You’ve also got an ITV series starting next week, Tales from the Coast. What’s that about?
I travel the length and breadth of Great Britain, celebrating the idyllic islands around Britain. So one minute I’m on the idyllic Luskentyre Beach in the Hebrides, then I’m on Lundy Island off the Devon Coast, then the Pembrokeshire coast. Britain has some beautiful places to visit. The Hebrides is astonishing.
So where are you off to next?
I’m looking forward to a break. I might actually go to the Highlands for a bit of early fishing because the Scottish season starts a month earlier than it does in England. I’m going to fish without a camera in my face, which is always nice.
Robson Green: Grand Slam Fishing begins on Monday 23 January on the Travel Channel, 9pm